GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Corey Fergus
- Jeff Kingsley
- Paul Holton
Daytona, FL -- Two new Acura TSXs joined a veteran RSX in the Compass360 Racing garages at this past weekend's Daytona test days. All cars featured the team's vibrant new orange and black livery that reflects the spirit of Grand Am's Street Tuner class. It was the first time fielding a three-car effort for the squad, and the team rose to the challenge with their trademark professional approach. "We did well with our RSXs last season," said crew chief Ray Lee. "But the TSX is a very different car, and we made some educated assumptions about initial set-up. Fortunately, they turned out to be the right ones."
The team has assembled a very strong driver line-up for the Daytona race in late January. Billy Johnson and Karl Thomson – who have driven together a number of times over the past two seasons – are paired in the #76 TSX. Thomson reported, "It's been a goal of mine to drive with Billy for a whole year, and not just the occasional race. I'm really thrilled that we were able to put a program together with the Acuras that finally allowed it to happen."
Travis Walker returns for his third year with the team in the Kensai Racing-sponsored #75 TSX, pairing with Beau Buisson, who's had experience with a wide variety of Grand American KONI Challenge teams. "Ray and the team have always built fast, reliable cars," said Walker, "and I'm excited to race with them again this year."
The #74 RSX welcomed karting talents and new road-racing drivers Matt Pritiko and Eric Powell. Both showed great maturity and improved in every stint, helped by detailed data analysis and session reviews by the other four drivers. In fact, Powell put the RSX atop the time sheet during the Friday morning session, and was frequently in the top three.
"The team and drivers really gelled this weekend," remarked Thomson. "It was a big step moving to three cars, especially two new ones, but everyone worked together so well, and each car improved in every session. It was truly wonderful to see, and is what I've always hoped for since I formed a Grand Am team in 2004."
In fact, a Compass Acura was either first or second in each of the six test sessions at Daytona. On Friday morning, their cars were 1-2-3, with the RSX leading the way, with the #76 TSX ending the last session on top. A truly gratifying result that's thanks to a determined effort by the entire team and drivers.
The crew returns to their Toronto base to review the data and refresh the cars. "We had a good weekend, but there is still a lot of work to do," noted Lee. "A lot of the top teams didn't show up to the Daytona test, and although we did well, the top times were still a few seconds off last year's pole." In other words, the race weekend, which takes place January 25th-26th, will be even more competitive and should be a tremendous race to start the season. It promises to be a great start to the inaugural KONI Challenge Series' year, and the team hopes to keep their Street Tuner Acuras at the front of the field.